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Nintendo 3DS XL: First impressions with the improved handheld

More comfortable, better battery and improved 3D

Surely Nintendo's executing its release schedule in the wrong order? Sixteen months after the release of its tiny, multi-coloured range of 3DS models, it's set to release a chunkier, heavier and less sexy version of its latest handheld - and all for around the same price.

It does feel like the Nintendo 3DS XL should've been the 3DS model we received for our cash in March last year. It's more comfortable for one and the battery life has seen a significant boost.

But it's not without its flaws. We've been play testing the new model extensively this week and ahead of its European release on July 28, here are our impressions...

The science bit

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The main selling points of the 3DS XL are its 90% larger screens, the top of which has been increased from 3.58 inches to 4.88 inches, making it the biggest Nintendo's ever included on a handheld. The lower, second screen meanwhile has been increased from 3.02 inches to 4.18 inches.

As you'd expect the increased screen-age means extra weight, and the 3DS XL is up from 235g to 336g compared to its predecessor, with overall dimensions of 134 x 74 x 21mm.

As before, the handheld features dual cameras (the front-sided of which can take 3D snaps) unchanged at 0.3 megapixels. The glasses-free 3D effect on the top screen is again controlled by a 3D slider, which this time around is slightly larger and requires a final 'click' to activate or turn off the effect.

The visuals aren't the only reason to purchase a 3DS XL however; Nintendo's also beefed up the battery life. It says your portable will now last between three and six-and-a-half hours when playing 3DS games, and between five and eight if you're playing original DS games.

It's also worth noting that whereas the original 3DS came bundled with a 2GB SD card, the 3DS XL includes a larger 4GB card, which is useful for Nintendo eShop downloads. The compromise is that European and Japanese 3DS XL boxes won't include a charger - you'll have to use your old one or purchase a plug separately.

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